Imagine you have an exciting product (like Equip, of course!) that is aimed at Recruiters and Talent Acquisition (TA) folks. You know that your initial set of customers love it and they can't imagine their life without it. How do you scale your customers to beyond your initial set, especially if you don't have a large budget for Branding, or have a large network to do Referrals?

Of course, you can cold-email, run ads, write content and so on. But, we wanted to do something different, some form of guerilla marketing. This post describes how we managed to get 7 demo calls by spending less than $250! (For context, if even one of these demos convert to a customer, we stand to make more than 20X the $250 in LTV!)

The Tactic

The idea was this:

  1. Identify the TA heads of 10 funded Bangalore-based startups that are hiring
  2. Send each of them a backpack locked with a numerical code on it
    "Locked" Backpack and Gift Wrapper
  3. Insert a surprise gift inside the backpack, and gift-wrap all this with a "cover letter" that explains that this is a gift
  4. To get the numerical code that opens the bag, the TA head must scan the QR code in the letter and get on a call with us
  5. "Cover Letter"

  6. We share the QR code at the end of the demo call, and the bag and the gift are theirs! They get the QR code whether they convert as customers or not

The Thinking

Of course, TA heads get bombarded by assessment tools like Equip all the time. It is difficult to convince them of our product's value proposition if we can't even demo the product to them. So, the idea was to get them to reach out to us.

We did this just before Diwali, and so we thought most people would have assumed that this is a gift from the company. People would have been intrigued by the gift after they opened it. If they didn't know the code, the bag would have been completely useless. So, we knew that they would reach out to us.

The Execution

The Preparation

Once we had the idea, we didn't waste too much time overthinking it. It helped that Diwali was around the corner, and we set up the week before Diwali as the deadline. We bought the backpacks off Amazon, gifts off Theobrama, gift wrapper off Itsy Bitsy—the works. We are a tiny team, and a couple of us learnt how to gift wrap large boxes by trial-and-error, attached post-its on them and the gifts were ready. 

None of the TA heads we reached out to knew what we were up to. In fact, we ourselves didn't know about them, prior to our research on "Bangalore funded companies that are currently hiring". If we had more time to prepare, we may have reached out to our network and curated the list better. But, as an experiment, we were OK going in blind to see how effective this was. Our thinking was, if we can get demos with random folk, we should be able to do much better with curated TA heads.

The Delivery

We had initially planned to Dunzo the items. But, we didn't have the phone numbers of the recipients. We didn't even know if the recipient would be at the office on the day we went! In fact, many companies had multiple offices in Bangalore, and it wasn't clear which office they would sit in.

One of us from the team spent two days just driving to these different offices, hoping that security wouldn't kick them out, and that the recipients wouldn't reject the gift. In a few cases, we had gone to the wrong office location, and then had to go halfway across town to the right one! Thankfully, all 10 boxes were delivered to the TA head directly, or to someone who said they would pass the box along.

The boxes are rather large, and have nice packaging and so on, so there were many bemused onlookers! We had assumed that everyone will assume it is a gift from the Company, but because no one else on the team had received it, most other employees were certain that the gift was from a "certain someone" ;) As one of the recipients told us, "I now have a lot of explaining to do"

The Results

Of the 10 boxes that were delivered, 7 TA Heads reached out to us via the QR Code or phone and booked a demo call with us. All the 7 have seen how the product works (which was the objective), and a few have created accounts and are in the trial phase. A few others are already using our competitors' products, and have asked us to get back to them when their contract ends. All of them loved the gesture, and the initiative!

"What about the other 3?", you ask. We don't know! The other 3 have a backpack that they can't open, a gift that they can't touch and somehow they aren't curious enough to want to talk to us. Go figure!

The Post-mortem

  1. Was the planning and execution fun? Yes
  2. Did it achieve its objective? Yes
  3. Would you do it again? Yes
  4. What would you do differently? Instead of going blind on the recipients, we should know more about them: their phone number, the office they sit in, would they appreciate marketing like this, etc. This simplifies logistics, and also ensures that we target TA heads who would be curious enough to jump on a call with us
  5. How can I help? We are thrilled by the response to this campaign, and would like to reach out to more people. If you know the Head of Talent Acquisition at a Bangalore-based startup, please fill out this Google Form (just 4 questions) with their details. If we think they are a fit, they will get a surprise gift from us!